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Industrial Strength Social Media

In his latest blog, Ace World Companies vice president Camron Ghanemi marks a Twitter milestone and is proud to say #iWorkInTheSupplyChain.

Our marketing strategy is complemented by social media campaigns across a number of platforms, including LinkedIn and Facebook, for example, but this blog charts a journey on Twitter and shares some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

I’ll be honest, when I sent the company’s first Tweet from @AceWorldCompany, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had doubts on two levels; first, I wondered if Twitter represented a fit with the commercial strategy of an equipment manufacturer and, second, whether our target, industrial audiences would embrace content from us in this format. Now, with over 1,000 loyal, engaged followers (a milestone we passed this month), I’m certain that we made the right decision to press “Tweet” for the first time.

What became quickly apparent to me was that Twitter is a social but serious business. The brand, represented by the little bird often seen in striking blue, has huge credibility. “There’s nothing like true blue,” Twitter says of its iconic color, but official Twitter colors also include shades of black and gray. They’re particular about the shape, size and dimensions of how the logo is used too.

Larry Bird is actually named after the Boston Celtics legend, most likely because a co-founder grew up in Massachusetts. Another co-founder more commonly associated with Twitter is Jack Dorsey, who sent the first ever Tweet almost a decade ago. Larry and I are still getting to know each other but I’ve picked up a few tips and I’d like to share four that other equipment manufacturers or members of the supply chain community can apply to their social media networking.

1. Consider the mileage of a Tweet
I’ve always been amazed at how far tiny birds can travel in migration. Between Europe and Africa, for example, migrating swallows cover 200 miles a day at speeds of over 20 miles per hour. However, Larry can get to the other side of the country (world, even) in seconds and tweet in the ear of all of your customers and competitors when he gets there. Thus, it is very important to consider the content of Tweets and envisage the impact.

Users only get 140 characters in each Tweet to capture a moment or update followers and instantaneously it can literally be shared with all corners of the world. Such a short message doesn’t take long to read, either. Few marketing platforms require you to be so concise yet offer such outreach. It may be a small frame on your cell phone but it really is a window on the world. Thinking of it that way is rather daunting, yet it serves as a safety mechanism, particularly if Tweets represent the viewpoint of a large, important company.

2. Post regular, quality content
I hear lots of stories about individuals and businesses, particularly in the industrial sector, giving up their Twitter and social media campaigns before they have gained momentum. People often tell me it wasn’t working or they weren’t getting positive responses. If they’re a peer or competitor I often look back through their timelines to see what went wrong, out of interest. Often it’s because they posted too much self-serving, commercial content.

Think about it. If a user opens a Twitter account to generate positive interest around a brand, they need people to engage with their content, share it and follow them to be sure to receive information as they Tweet. If the only posts have been links to a website or promotional messages about how they’re better than competitors, it’s no surprise few chose to engage, share or follow. As is so often true, those who are most successful on social media are those who communicate it, not sell it.

3. Grow a network
Once a Twitter account has a few followers from the target audience and a short history of Tweets, commentating on what is important to the demographic and sharing experiences, it’s time to build trust among the community so other accounts want to join the network. Effective ways of doing this are to follow like-minded folks and interact with their content by clicking the “Like” button, sharing it with your own followers by way of a Retweet or commenting to demonstrate that you consider them a fellow thought leader.

Again, only quality counts. Building a legion of irrelevant followers will not add any value to a brand or its communication strategies. A butcher wouldn’t want 10,000 followers from the Vegetarian Society, for example. Buying followers is never an effective way of growing a quality network. Take time. Many healthy Twitter accounts only grow at an average of one new follower every day. Set that as a target in the early stages.

4. Harness the power of hashtags
It took me some time to understand how hashtags work and the true power they possess. As Twitter says, a hashtag (the # symbol) is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. Tweets with the same hashtag are bundled together for easy subject-specific browsing, accessible by clicking the hyperlinked text. In other words, a Tweet without a hashtag will only initially be seen by followers of the account that sent it or those scrolling through a specific timeline, but when #soccer is added, for example, it is added to the live collection of Tweets that have also used that hashtag. All of a sudden one can mingle with everyone talking about soccer. Imagine that. What hashtags are people using in your industry?

As I’ve said in this blog before, we have very effectively networked with trade show exhibitors and visitors before, during and after exhibitions by using the event hashtag. MHI uses #ProMatShow and #MODEXShow during their trade events so people can interact with like-minded Tweeters. Again, don’t abuse this opportunity. As soon as account managers start posting “We’re the best thing since sliced bread at #MODEXShow,” next spring, people will quickly turn off, ignore and lose respect for the content and the company or person posting it.

We put the MHI Executive Summit & Annual Conference hashtag #MHIac15 to good use recently, as discussed last month.

Proud that #iWorkInTheSupplyChain

MHI are increasingly embracing social media and I applaud their efforts, particularly as I see it as a way to engage young professionals or even the generation that is completing education and considering careers in industry. The association has recently launched a video titled #iWorkInTheSupplyChain that tells the unique stories of a variety of manufacturing and supply chain professionals. The video can be viewed at iWorkInTheSupplyChain.com.

As MHI says, “I work in the supply chain” is often followed by “What’s that?” or “What do you do?” Or it can bring to mind negative stereotypes of workers spending endless hours in dark, dingy factories. The reality is that supply chains are global enterprises led by a diverse group of professionals that utilize innovation, creativity and smart thinking to not only drive operational efficiency but to keep the economy going.

The goal of the #iWorkInTheSupplyChain campaign is to connect, engage and inspire next-generation workers to pursue manufacturing and supply chain careers. MHI is inviting all who work in manufacturing and the supply chain to join this campaign and share what they proudly do in their career. Supply chain professionals can utilize social media to spread the word. They can Tweet, take a picture, shoot a video or send a message to share their unique story and the difference their job makes in the world by using the #iWorkInTheSupplyChain hashtag. I’m proud to have already Tweeted #iWorkInTheSupplyChain!

Social media will continue to complement our other marketing campaigns over the next few months as we exhibit at a number of trade shows. The International WorkBoat Show & Annual Conference takes place on 1-3 December at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana; and the Power-Gen International show—a Power Generation Week event—follows on 8-10 December at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In February we’re back in Las Vegas for World of Concrete.

Manufacturing capability

Ace World Companies continues to bring more operations in house and we have recently added a new computer numerical controlled (CNC) lathe to the workshop, which takes our machining capability to a new level. We already boasted new heat-treating facilities plus laser and water jet cutting operations as we carry on with an in-sourcing initiative. This gives us more control over our quality, more control over our costs, and ultimately makes us more competitive. And it provides plenty of #manufacturing stories to share on social media!

Thank you for reading my blog. More next month.

Camron Ghanemi
Vice President, Ace World Companies
President, Pullift Corporation